BHP, the world’s biggest mining company, has thrown its weight behind a huge nickel project in Tanzania as it seeks to access the metals and minerals needed for the electrification of the global economy. The decision to invest $100m in private UK miner Kabanga Nickel, which is developing the project, marks a further shift in strategy for BHP, which has traditionally focused on less risky mining jurisdictions such as Australia, Chile and Canada that have been extensively developed.
Kabanga is regarded as the world’s largest development-ready, high-grade nickel sulphide deposit. However, it is in a remote location in the north-west of the country, close to the border with Burundi and Rwanda, and lacks infrastructure. Kabanga is planning to refine the ore it produces in Tanzania, using a hydrometallurgy technology that it claims is less polluting and carbon-intensive than other methods.
This, it says, will eliminate the need to export the ore long distances for processing in Europe or Asia, further reducing its carbon footprint. “Through development of Kabanga… Tanzania will have a growing role in the supply of the battery metals needed to move to a global low carbon economy,” said Chris Showalter, chief executive of Kabanga Nickel. Doto Biteko, Tanzania’s minister of minerals, said: “We now stand ready to help the world in the production and refining of the crucial metals that society needs, while creating skilled jobs and benefiting the economy of our country.”